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What Happens During the Adoption Process?
Any one of these uncontested Petitions, when filed in a district, receives a case number with a prefix identifying it to that district. The Petition and other filed documents are immediately sent to the central Adoptions Unit along with the file folder for permanent storage. When the matter is ready to be set for hearing, a Memorandum for Setting for Hearing will be submitted to the district location where the matter was filed. Procedure may vary from district to district as to whether the date, time, and location are set from the courtroom or from the office but, in any event, the original Memorandum is returned to the Adoptions Unit once the setting information is filled in on the form. The Adoptions Unit will issue any citations and notices, if necessary. The Adoptions Unit will then send the court file to the district in time for the hearing date. A checklist will be included with the file indicating any deficiencies or documents that still need to be filed. The matter will not be set for hearing until all documents are received.

On the date of the hearing, and before the matter is called, it is the Judicial Assistant/Court Clerk’s responsibility to ascertain if the necessary documents are in the file, including the Consent and joinder (in Dependency cases only), the Order of Adoption, the Adoption Agreement, and in the instance of an Agency or Independent Adoption, an Adoption Expense Report. If one or more citations were issued in the case, or if notice of the hearing was required, the Judicial Assistant/Court Clerk must ensure that the proof of service of each citations or notice of hearing is filed. Service by publication may be allowed in certain instances. A proof of publication must be filed. The Court must be informed of any missing documents prior to the case being heard. Before the matter is called for hearing, a determination must be made as to whether any of the citees have appeared. Their appearance or non-appearance must be reflected in the minute order.

The Order of Adoption must conform to the requirements in Section 117.58 of the Manual of Procedure for Superior Court Clerks. Judicial Assistants/Court Clerks must ensure inclusion of the date and place of the minor’s birth, the fact that the residency of the petitioner is in Los Angeles County, and the age of the minor at the time of adoption. Of particular importance is the inclusion in the order of the proper spelling of the new full name of the adoptee.

All four types of adoptions require an Adoption Agreement form of some kind as prescribed by Chapter 13 of the Los Angeles Superior Court Local Rules (a Consent and Joinder is required in Dependency Adoptions only). During the hearing, certain parties are required to sign this form in open court. Children over the age of 12 years must also sign. If the adoption is granted, the Court will sign and date the Order of Adoption and the Adoption Agreement form. The Judicial Assistant/Court Clerk must file stamp these documents. It is permissible to conform one or more copies(no more than four) of the Order of Adoption for the parties or counsel. A minute order is prepared by the Judicial Assistant/Court Clerk reflecting the findings and orders of the Court. Again, it is of utmost importance to reflect accurately the new full name of the adoptee in the minute order, making sure the name conforms to what is reflected in the Order.

The original and all copies of the minute order, the filed original Order of Adoption, the Adoption Agreement, the filed Adoption Expense Report, if required, and all other documents filed at the hearing are then inserted loose in the court file. Any conformed copies not given to the parties or counsel are also to be inserted in the file. Do not retain a courtroom copy of the minute order. The court file should be returned to the Adoptions Unit as soon as possible.

It is important to remember that adoption proceedings are often times a joyous occasion for the parties involved. Thus, all court employees have an excellent opportunity to help the Court portray a positive image to the public it serves.

Questions concerning the proper handling of adoption proceedings and documents should be directed to the Adoptions and Abandonment Unit at the Edmund D. Edelman Children’s Court in Monterey Park at (323) 526-6343.
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